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Found an awesome bass, BUT...

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by rokx, May 12, 2011.


  1. rokx

    rokx

    Nov 13, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    I dropped into a local violin makers place to try a few of whatever basses he may have there. He pretty much showed me a rack with a couple and said, "Go for it." And so I did. Basses had no labels or anything, no price tag, so I was trying them with no bias at all.
    Anyway, found this one bass, looked very much handmade, just from the...you know when you know when you look at a handmade instrument. It sounded incredible! It had a certain attitude, and growl to it, with a in-your-face sorta bottom end.
    I loved the sound, and the it's "look". The finish was very deep and rich and had some cool engravings on the tuner plates.
    It didn't have one of those ID tag things inside the body so it was a bit of a mystery. I found out later that it was indeed a handmade bass about 3 years old, with the only information that it was made in Lao Shan, China.

    Ok, so that's the background story. My actual question is: the bass is relatively light, compared to, say a Gliga which is quite bottom heavy. I know some Chinese basses are known for their 'green-ness' at the making process. This bass obviously has been sitting around for a while in a relatively dry-ish, dusty room (this is down in Australia) and looks and sounds fine.

    One other thing was that I could actually flex the hang-off part of the fingerboard whenever I went to pizz a hard note, which was kinda freaky at first cos I thought I'd warped it or something. I've never flexed the fingerboard on a bass from pizzing it so hard. Anyway the whole bass felt very 'springy'. Dunno whether that's a good or bad thing...but it was very nice and easy to play.

    Can someone tell me what's up with this weird springy-ness this bass has?
     
  2. donn

    donn

    Mar 28, 2011
    Seattle
    Might be interesting to measure that fingerboard. For comparison, the ebony on my bass is 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick at the end, and it's 70 years old and could have been planed down once or twice from the original thickness. It's due for another planing, and I understand the current thickness leaves plenty of room for that.
     
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    You are going to want to change that fingerboard. A mushy fingerboard does not provide adequate support to the neck; over time a warped neck results, caused by the tension of the strings. It will also sound poorly, compared to an excellent board. Inquire about having a top-quality German fingerboard installed. These are made of African ebony, which is way stiffer and more dense than much of the lower-end ebony the Chinese makers use. If the bass has been stored in relatively low humidity for a couple years or more I would not have great concern about it coming apart.
     
  4. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    [​IMG]

    this one, right? Looks nice. Have a look inside. If the block and linings are neatly done, it's a good sign. Check the endpin; it probably has something really lightweight and cheap. A nice solid endpin will make the bass feel less springy, as will a new fingerboard.
     
  5. rokx

    rokx

    Nov 13, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Yep Matthew, that'll be the one.
    I'll definitely inquire about a replacement fingerboard.
    That bass is going for $5500 AUD, but the guy hinted that it's negotiable. I'm on a pretty tight budget, getting a new fingerboard installed for it would mean that I'm somewhat obliged to buy it right? And how much more should I expect to pay for the installation and stuff?
     
  6. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    Well, the seller MIGHT put a new fingerboard if he thinks you might buy it, but probably not. Better to negotiate that with the buying price. New fingerboard can be up to a grand. But maybe the fingerboard is OK after all? What's your level of experience playing bass?

    i reckon you prob need to shop around a little bit more. Go to Puglisi's shop in Hawthorne and see what he has going.
     
  7. rokx

    rokx

    Nov 13, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Yep, been to Puglisi, and I loved the Gliga 1 they had there, but with a price like $9800, I just can't afford it. I also tried a brand new Gliga 3, which was nothing special. And I just didn't like the Salieri and St Antonio ones. The only other ones that I liked were the ancient European ones but they're ridiculously expensive.
    I'm hoping to try a Gliga 2 to see if anything's going on there, but they haven't got one in store.
    I'm preparing to go study jazz/contemporary at one of the university's, probably the VCA or Monash uni next year. The auditions will be later on this year and obviously I'm preparing for those with a teacher. I'm currently playing a cheap bass that belongs to a uni, and I need a bass that, first of all, I'm happy with the sound, and also be able to hold itself together for many years of serious playing.

    You know, the Chinese bass sounded really nice, it just took me by surprised how much I could bend down the fingerboard when I pizzed. Like, REALLY bend it, the wood must be relatively supple. But I mean it had good playablity, and its sound could easily cut across a grand piano (there was a grand piano in the room), so I liked it a lot, it felt special.
     
  8. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    if you can play it and like it despite the flexi-board, well then yeah, your last idea sounds OK. My first bass had a thin and flexy fingerboard when I bought it, and even though when I restored the bass I took the fingerboard off, I installed a carbon fibre reinforcement and put the original streaky ebony board back on because I liked it so much.

    do one thing though - put a straight ruler along the glue-line between the fingerboard and the neck, up near the nut. It should be straight. If it is not straight, but bending, then you're going to need a new board sooner rather than later.

    you know, I came across one bass i really loved in Alan Riley's shop before he moved on. it was a chinese import, and i could afford it, just, and it really spoke to me. I didn't buy it - I probably should have, but then if I had, i probably wouldn't have gone on to build basses that I like even MORE!
     

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